Find a Christian store

Interview with Janalyn Voigt

Happy New Year! What are your writing goals for 2018?
The same to you, Alexis. I appreciate the chance to meet readers at the ACFW site. In 2018, I expect to write more novels in the Montana Gold western romance series and polish the final book in the epic fantasy series, Tales of Faeraven.

Tell us about book Cheyenne Sunrise. What inspired the title?
Cheyenne Sunrise is a story of renewal and hope. I can’t think of anything that symbolizes either more than the dawn of a new day. I included ‘Cheyenne’ because that tribe is prominent in the novel.

Describe the setting for your book. What makes it special?
The action begins in Boston, then moves to Independence and westward. My husband and I drove through Montana’s Bitterroot Valley, where the story winds up, during a research trip. It struck me as a place apart. I thought I would be able to use my cell phone but lost the signal. Light slanted from the widest sky I’ve ever seen, the Bitterroot River tumbled between its banks, and mountains stood blue in the distance. I forgot all about my emails.

Who is the leading lady in your story? What is her motivation?
To explain that, I need to tell a brief story. I once accepted a date with a learned man who had the advantages of position and money. It soon became clear we had little in common apart from an intellectual curiosity about one another. From his conversation, I gathered he lived in a jaded world short on morality. I told him about Jesus. Our relationship went no further, unsurprisingly, but I’ve wondered if my words planted seeds that later changed his life. A backhanded compliment he paid me impacted me in ways he would never have guessed. With the right background, he assured me, I would have gone far in life. That kicked me in the stomach. There’s nothing like having your failure pronounced in advance. "Don’t count me out yet!" I fumed. His words goaded me on the journey from insurance agent to published novelist.

I gave Bryanna Brennan my own drive to rise above every disadvantage. Before the story in Cheyenne Sunrise begins, Bry suffers tragedies. The potatoes go bad in her Irish homeland and her family flees to America. Along the way, her mother and young brother die. Poverty forces her family to survive in the slums of Manhattan. She marries to escape, only to find herself bound to a man who beats her. After her husband’s death, she loses her scant possessions then goes into service, but is unjustly dismissed without a reference, Bry only knows that life has trodden her down, and that God seems absent. A question burns within her. Why does God allow bad things to happen to innocent people? Bry’s quest has begun.

Who is your story’s hero? What is his motivation?
Nick Laramie was the only child of a Cheyenne woman and a French trapper. After Nick’s father dies, his mother returns to her tribe. Nick learns what it means to come from two worlds but belong to neither. Happiness requires him to free himself from the prejudices of others and also his own. I based the hero of Cheyenne Sunrise on my father, who spent part of his life as a half-Native American orphan.

What draws Bry and Nick together? What threatens to tear them apart?
After her bitter marriage, Bry doesn’t want another husband. Nick is certain that any wife he took would suffer the same unsettled existence and prejudice he endures. Their mutual curiosity and attraction won’t let them ignore one another, however. Events throw them together, a fact neither welcomes on a rational level. Emotionally, they can’t abide a separation.

Describe the hurt in Bry and Nick’s individual backstories that makes them run away from romance. How do they overcome these hurdles?
Both Bry and Nick need to learn what love is and what it isn’t.

Bry fears being dominated by a man she is helpless to leave. When this happened in her marriage, it carved deep scars into her soul. Like many abused people, she turns inward to rely on herself alone. Before she can open to love like a flower to rain, she must resolve her distance from God.

Nick believes the lies told about him, that he’s not equal to other people. Until he accepts his own worth and throws off voices from the past, he has nothing to offer anyone else.

Why did you set your story in the Wild West?
On the way home from a family trip to Yellowstone, I picked up a tourist brochure in Virginia City, the one-time capital of Montana. While reading about gold fever, road agents, vigilantes, and hangings, it gave me goosebumps to think that it had all happened in that location. As I looked out the window over grasslands that stretched to lofty mountains, story ideas crowded my mind. The setting for the Montana Gold series felt God-breathed.

Your book Cheyenne Sunrise is “based on actual historical events during a time of unrest in America”. What was your story research process like?
I believe strongly in visiting your story settings. Yes, you can find out a lot about a place online, but there’s no substitute for your own impressions.

I researched by reading books about the West before traveling to Montana. As part of that trip, we drove through the Bitterroot Valley, the location for Cheyenne Sunrise. With the road to ourselves outside the small farming towns, it felt like we’d gone back to an earlier day.

How does your personal faith in God play into your stories?
I don’t preach or dictate to readers. My beliefs come out through the themes in my books and in the ethics I present. There are places secular books go that mine never will and topics mine cover that secular books avoid.

Who is your favorite author? Why?
I’ve read and reread the works of Mary Stewart, a vintage author who wrote with the same elements I include in my own fiction: romance, history, adventure, suspense, and fantasy or whimsy. That’s a combination I enjoy, and I like her writing voice.

What is your favorite fiction book? What makes it special to you?
Airs Above the Ground by Mary Stewart has a circus background I found fun to read about. The tale involves a marriage in trouble, smuggling, and the disappearance of a Lipizzaner stallion with his groom.

You’ve said that being a novelist is “more hard work than glamour”. Why?
Long hours at the keyboard with midnight-or-later bedtimes, signing books at events, and speaking to a crowd might sound glamorous in theory. In reality, everything a novelist does to support her books comes at a cost. You have to pay for travel. Time spent promoting helps sales but makes writing deadlines challenging. The isolation in which you work fosters a strange disconnect with your successes. Simply completing a manuscript can feel more exciting than when it releases, for example. Having said all that, I wouldn’t trade the life I lead. Each of us is here for a purpose, and I’ve found mine.


Alexis A. Goring is a passionate writer with a degree in Print Journalism and an MFA in Creative Writing. She loves the art of storytelling and hopes that her stories will connect readers with the enduring, forever love of Jesus Christ.

For more great interviews, visit our Author Interview Archives.

ACFW Members, click here to apply for an author interview!

Developed by Camna, LLC

This is a service provided by ACFW, but does not in any way endorse any publisher, author, or work herein.